Friday, December 31, 2010

This is why WLS works and Diets don't

I was updating my VSG research links when I came across this study:

Medical and surgical treatments for obesity have opposite effects on peptide YY and appetite: a prospective study controlled for weight loss.

In the study, they had four groups with eight subjects in each group. One group lost weight through "medical treatment", 8 were "lean" (i.e., not obese), 8 had RnY (gastric bypass), and 8 had the sleeve. They then measured their appetite after losing weight and concluded:

RYGB [bypass] and SG [sleeve] increased PYY [a hormone that helps us feel full] and reduced appetite. MED [medical treatment] failed to produce changes. Different effects occur despite similar weight loss. This suggests that the weight-loss effects of these procedures are enhanced by an increase in PYY and satiety.

Translation: Bypass and sleeve have a positive effect on appetite and satiety. Just losing weight without those surgical interventions does not.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My anti-New Year's Resolution Resolution

This time of year people think a lot about how next year will be different, maybe even make New Year's Resolutions.

As I mentioned last year, I don't do New Year's Resolutions per se and here is why:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Power balance bracelets are a scam

That's a headline that greeted me on Facebook this morning. It appears that the agency in Australia that parallels our FDA has made the company that makes them stop claiming they increase power, flexibility and balance. (Our own FDA has done nothing, by the way.)

I'm not surprise, honestly.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Visting my old (fat) life

This week I decided to go to my figure skating club's Holiday party. It always includes a free skating session so I decide to finally get back on the ice. I was scared though because it's been years... so many years that I am not sure how long it's been... at least three years, maybe closer to four. I also had no skating outfits that fit any more.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dangerous advice from people who should know better

There's a lot of nonsense spewed on the Interwebz -- everything from the Flat Earth Society to Holocaust deniers -- but unfortunately not all of it is so obviously the work of crazies. Sometimes people with credentials or organizations with official sounding names are the ones spewing the nonsense.

As an example, we have a famous WLS surgeon who had a reality tv show, has written books on the subject and gives speeches at various WLS conferences around the country. Said "expert" has recently become a convert to the vegan lifestyle. Which is fine. For him. But said "expert" is not content just to wipe dairy, eggs and meat from his own diet. No, he wants you and I to eat that way too.

Like most fanatics, he tells us that it's good for us. That meat is bad for us. That no one, not one person, needs more than 60 g of protein a day.  That there is no such thing as a protein deficiency. That there are no symptoms of this imaginary deficiency. Oh and if we need to get more protein our diet, a good source is... Broccoli!

He also tells us that we should listen to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The problem with this advice is simple: it's bullshit.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MacMadame has a tattoo

It's been 2.5 weeks since I got my tattoo and I'm just now getting around to writing about it. This is mostly because the photos that will accompany this post needed some culling and Photoshop work and I've just not wanted to do it. But it's also because I'm in a bit of a post-IM funk and also have my first cold in 2.5 years ... which I'm also blaming on IMAZ because supposedly doing an Ironman will compromise your immune system.

Anyway, I have been talking about this tattoo pretty much since I signed up for IMAZ or maybe even before that. Knowing myself, I decided I had to get the tattoo immediately after finishing or I would never get around to it. (Similar to my idea to get a naval piercing which has never happened and probably never will at this point because you aren't supposed to swim for weeks after.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chuck Norris never did an Ironman

But I have. And I have the tattoo to prove it!

It wasn't pretty or anything close to what I dreamed of, but I made it through with almost eight minutes to spare (thank god) and got a big hug and a thank you from Chrissie at the finish line (more on that later).

Also, I'm going to apologize in advance for the length of this report but it covers seven days and almost 17 hours of racing and I'm still leaving a lot out.

Also, I can't get my photos off my camera or iPhone for some reason. But there is an album here that has a lot of photos of me:

Rama's Photos

and some guy I don't know took this photo of me on the bike course

and here's my finish line video

Saturday, November 20, 2010

IM-Day Minus One

It's the night before my Ironman. This will be my last entry until after the race.

I'm actually pretty calm. Or maybe I'm just numb. Either way works for me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Inching towards the finish line

Today, since I was already registered and body marked, I got to just hang out mostly. I finally finished seeing everything at the Expo. I got an one hour massage. I got some sort of weird laser treatment that is supposed to be like taking NSAIDs -- it reduces inflamation. I got that twice, in fact,

We also accompanied my friend Cee to get her body marking. When people asked us if we were racing, we said we were her entourage. Our photographer friend took pictures of her just like he did of me yesterday. We had fun.

Following me on race day

You can watch people cross the finish line at and you can follow my race there too. My bib number is 2731. When you see the splits for the run, you will know when I'm about a mile from the finish line and it's time to start watching the finish line video.

So when should you be on the lookout for me to cross that line? I have been working over my possible times for ages and finally thought I had things nailed down. But then the weather forecast changed and now everything is up in the air again!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The army is on the move

When I was packing to drive to Tempe, I felt like a military logistics officer trying to move an army from one battlefield to another. I had my lists that I had worked on for months and I checked stuff off as I packed it and checked it again, just to be sure. I ended up bringing:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Jinxed

I made it to Tempe in one piece! So that's good.

On the other hand, I'm sore in new spots, probably from the drive and then, when I was out running errands, I managed to break off a big piece of one of my crowns! I guess I'll have to spend part of tomorrow finding a dentist to have a look at it so nothing falls off on race day.

Off to foam roll...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heavy Strength and Benefiber

I can tell it's race week because yesterday I did a heavy strength routine and today I didn't put Benefiber in my morning protein shake. I'll still have fruit and veggies today but I'll start to cut way down on them tomorrow.

I'm excited, but also nervous. Yesterday was quite, shall we say, fraught?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week One: Race Week!

So my first taper week is over. I took it pretty easy with three days off in a row - Sunday through Tuesday.

Then I swam on Wednesday, which would have been okay, but we did a lot of kick drills and that bothered my calf a little. On Thursday I decided to try out my new headlamp and make sure I'll be warm enough and went for a night run around the neighborhood.

As usually when I just run cold, particularly around my neighborhood, it didn't go that well. It wasn't horrible but I could feel my calf pretty much the whole time and I ended up walking quite a bit. On the other hand, the new headlamp is awesome. My near vision deteriorates enough at night that having the extra light, even when there are street lights, makes a big difference.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The shirts are here!

The t-shirts for my "posse" to wear at Ironman AZ have arrived! They look like they are sized on the big side so I think some of us tiny people maybe in trouble.

I got them done via I had two discounts and a Groupon so the price wasn't too bad. The quality is excellent -- I'm very happy with how the graphics turned out, but also these are a nice quality tee, not some flimsy crap.

I got the idea to have everyone wearing matching shirts at last year's event. It was clear that the groups that did this were much easier to spot in the crowd so I figured it would help me find people when I was out on the course and also help them find each other when they are wandering around.

For those who want to follow my race online, my bib number is #2731 and you can track my progress at You only get a shirt if you come in person though. Um, unless there are extras and/or I just feel like giving you one.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some thoughts on doping

I found some generic Perocet in my medicine closet the other day. Plus something called Tramadol. I was thinking about bringing them to IMAZ in case my hip pain got excruciating while running. Then I remembered some drugs are banned by WADA. So I looked them up. Oxycodone/APAP (generic Perocet) is banned during competition. Tramadol is not. Both are opiate analgesics. So why one and not the other? Beats me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's a taper, not a tapeworm

My taper officially started on Monday, but really kind of started on Sunday. The funny thing is that my appetite was ravenous for the first couple of days of my taper. I was eating not only more than I was burning, but even more than I normally eat. As usual with these sorts of feeding frenzy days, my mind caught up with my body and yesterday and today I was hardly hungry at all at least not compared to my calorie burn.

During a taper, you are supposed to eat as you normally eat when you are working out more. The idea is that this tops off your glycogen stores. Then you deplete them during the race.

So I'm trying not to panic over the whole thing and am just trusting that it all works out in the end.

I'm also trying not to panic over not having run much at all this year. I think I will be okay fitness-wise, but it's going to be hard to judge when I should push and when I should hold back on the run because I have so little experience. Because I am healing, my thresholds are constantly changing. Because I am running so little, I have almost no experience running at my current level of healing.

The trick right now is to get a bit more data under my belt without causing further damage by overdoing it. The other trick is to do some running when doing any at all scares the crap out of me. I keep talking about doing some. But, if a workout is going to be blown off, it's going to be a run workout.

I am supposed to do a short run tomorrow night to test out my new headlamp. (The only one broke.) I hope I can make myself do it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week Two: Cold & Windy with a chance of Death

Winter has definitely arrived in Northern California. It's cold and rainy today. It's been chilly and windy for most of my workouts this week, especially the biking. I'm not at the point where it's so cold I am dreading working out, but I haven't done any open water swims since my challenging experience at Del Valle two weeks ago either. I have one last one planned for this week. I just hope it's not freezing. Or raining. (Though I'll still do it even if it rains.)

Interestingly, it's warmer than normal in Tempe right now. It's supposed to cool off this week and the forecast is for temps to be around historical averages on race day. The lake is actually warmer than expected as well. It's not clear how much it will cool down as air temps lower. I hope it gets slightly cooler as I don't look forward to swimming in a wetsuit in 70 F water. My hope is for 67 F as that's the temp my body thinks is perfect for open water swimming.

As I get closer to the big day, I worry something will happen to prevent me from racing. I didn't have this fear earlier in the season, but then a fellow tri club member got hit by a car two weeks before IM Canada. Now, she's going to be okay, but she couldn't race. All that prep and no chance to show what it accomplished.

When good advice is bad advice

Ever have a situation where people are giving you what seems to be good advice -- sensible and maybe even scientifically supported -- but it just doesn't work for you?

I'm going through this right now with protein bars. Dr. Awesome is not a fan of protein bars and, honestly, I can see why.

Even though they are called "protein" bars, most of them have more carbohydrates than protein. They also tend to have a lot of sugar. If they don't, they are full of sugar alcohols. MacMadame and sugar alcohols do not mix, at least not in the quantities that appear in most of these bars. They also tend to be high in fat.

In short, they are a glorified candy bar and are to be avoided, right?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week Three: It's an A.R.T.

This week I started getting A.R.T. During my evaluation, we found lots of parts on my left side that hurt, more parts than I expected. Lots of runners get something called "IT Band Syndrome." I was convinced I didn't have it because I don't have the normal symptoms but my IT Band is really tender and I do get knee pain when I run; I thought it was from my calf injury, but maybe not. Apparently I need to foam roll more than I do. Blech, I hate to foam roll.

The secret life of the outdoor athlete

Before I started training for triathlons, my life was mostly lived indoors. I knew people did things outside and sometimes I'd catch glimpses of them as I went out my indoor life but I didn't really have any idea the extent to which there was this whole other life being lived all around me, but just out of view.

Once in a while I'd be driving somewhere and notice a parking lot full of bikes and wonder about it. Was it an enormous group ride? Or did everyone who biked somehow just know that this particular store was a good stopping place? But then I'd drive on and forget about it.

I also used to not care about the weather. I always dressed for 70 F because that's the temperature indoors and I wasn't outdoors enough for it to even matter. Sure I might be cold or wet or hot running to the car between home and work and back again. But it would be over quickly so I could effectively ignore that outdoors most of the time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scars at Two Years Out

I took this picture on my two-year anniversary but then forgot to post it.
As always with these scar pictures, my scars in real-life are slightly more noticeable. You can only really see the lower left (right in pictures) here but in real life you can see the lower right as well. The two at the top are hard to find unless you know what to look for and the 5th scar blended right into my gallbladder surgery scar a long time ago.

Two Year Check-up

I had my official two-year check-up with Dr. Awesome today. We went over my labs. He agreed they were great except for protein. He said I need to consume more and that even though I don't workout for 20 hours like many of my  long-course peers, that 10 hours is still a lot of time to workout and also that my 10 hours is probably on the intense side. I guess he has a point. It's true that anemia is an issue for female endurance athletes so I guess I better stop fighting this thing and just eat more damn protein!

He was okay with me adding in an iron supplement, but not convinced I really needed it. He also wants me to cut back to 50,000 IUs every other week instead of every other week so my Vitamin D doesn't go any higher.

This is a controversial issue in some circles. There are some people who are convinced that we altered-folk need our Vitamin D in the 80-100 range based on some studies. I have read those studies and I am not 100% convinced, but I am also not convinced that anything horrible will happen to me if my Vitamin D stays at 100. I also know from past experience that taking my Vitamin D every other week is not going to work as well in the winter. So I will probably wait until next spring to do that.

Finally, he pointed out that my weight has been within a narrow range for the past 1.5 years so he feels like he doesn't have to worry about me starting to regain at this point ... as long as I stay committed to my racing lifestyle, anyway. I told him I was going to do two Ironmans next year and he laughed.

These are my obligatory "Look I can fit into one leg of my old pants" photos, by the way. I think I might do a side-by-side of old and new pants too as I think that actually shows the difference better than these shots. But since they are obligatory, I had to take them ... or be drummed out of the Bariatric Bloggers corp or something.

Next official check-up: in six months.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week Four: Light at the end of the tunnel

I know I'm two days late on my "Countdown to IMAZ" post but it rained this weekend so I did my long ride yesterday. It went well in some ways, not so well in others.

My schedule continues to be very messed up. Doing a core/kettlebell workout on Monday nights, which use to be my rest day, doesn't help. This week, I also had a bariatric support group meeting on the day I normally swim. Though this happens every month, I still haven't worked out a good plan for how to deal with it. This week I went to the Masters class at my gym, only to find that it doesn't seem to actually be happening any more. I swam anyway, concentrating on my catch and doing some speed work, but I prefer to have someone telling me what drills to do as otherwise I tend to just swim straight distances and don't mix it up enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Racing with Chrissie

I just found out that Chrissie Wellington is going to be racing at IMAZ to make up for not being able to defend her World Championship title at Kona earlier in the month. So we'll be racing "together".

[insert girlie screams and squeals here]

Of course, this is going to shoot my goal of getting out on the run before the first finisher crosses the finish line all to heck because even if I modify it to first female finisher, there's a reasonable chance Chrissie will win the whole thing in my opinion. Then again, that was never a realistic goal anyway, more wishful thinking. I'll trade it for getting to be "caught" at the finish line by Chrissie in a heartbeat.

Speaking of the finish line, I've been getting so emotional about doing this Ironman lately. It reminds me a bit of when I had surgery - the planning, the anticipation, the daydreaming as to what it will be like, and the random tearing up for no reason thinking about it. It's caught me by surprise.

But now thinking that maybe Chrissie will be at the finish line greeting me as I cross as she has done at past races, and I'm getting even more emotional. Given that I don't think I'd even be in the position of doing this race, if it hadn't been for the advice and encouragement that Chrissie gave me when I met her last year, it's the perfect ending to my season.

Now, watch: I won't even see her the entire time I'm in Tempe

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My GOTRIbal Weekend

I spent last weekend in San Diego. I went there for the Conference that I was supposed to attend last year but got canceled. Last time I took my daughter and we stayed with family, but she didn't want to go this time because she didn't want to miss school. I ended up staying with friends who were also attending the conference and racing the next day and that was a a lots of fun.

GOTRIbal, for those not familiar with it, is an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in endurance sports, for the goal of empowering wome. When I first got into triathlon, I was quite surprised at how the men outnumbered the women. I figured it was a sport where women can compete on the same playing field so the numbers would be more even, at least here in the US, where Title IX has encouraged so many more women to be active in sports.

I also think that women have a unique advantage in endurance sports because we tend to be mentally tough, yet not stupid tough-guy macho. Of course, this a complete generalization, but I still don't see any reason why women can't do as well as men in endurance sports and athletes like Chrissie Wellington -- who will probably outright win an Ironman some day -- are showing what women are capable of.

To get back to the conference though...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week Five: I'm a runner (again)

This week my workout schedule was still messed up and also I did quite a bit of strength training, more than I really intended to. I ended up rather sore at mid-week and ended up taking Thurs. and Friday off, both to get un-sore and to drive down to San Diego for a big triathlon-related weekend.

On Saturday I ended up doing two strength workouts, not really on purpose, but I went to the Boot Camp at the GOTRIbal Conference and Retreat first thing in the morning and then attended a "Strength Training at Home" talk at the conference that turned out to be more doing than listening.

I was a bit worried that between four strength training workouts in one week, plus the run and swim clinic, that I'd be too sore to race well on Sunday. I did have times during the bike when I asked my legs to give me more and they just couldn't. I still PRed the bike course though. In spite of both rain and wind. This was actually the most wind I've had in a race (though not in a workout) and the only time I raced in the rain.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More lab results

I've got the rest of my B vitamin results back and all my Bs look good. So does my zinc and my selenium and whatever else I haven't posted about. My B12, which can be a problem post-op for some partial gastrectomy patients, is actually up quite a bit over last year and my folate is up as well.

So it's just my protein that's low. Dr. Mom doesn't think it's anything to worry about because my other labs are great. She suggested more bariatric-friendly supplements. I won't see Dr. Awesome until next week, but I'd be surprised if he says anything different.

MacBoy is also talking about taking supplements (his diet is horrible and he's underweight) so I guess I better get off my duff and order that iron from VitaLady.

What I find interesting is that everything I read about female endurance athletes says that anemia is a common problem. I don't really have any signs of anemia - my hemotocrit and hemoglobin are excellent - but that could change if my iron keeps dropping. I wonder if iron has been the issue all along. It's not clear to me how iron and protein interact.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My uterus is funny!

Saw the OB/Gyn today. She said I don't need any follow-up on my polyp until it starts making me bleed more. (Assuming it does.) But then I said I wanted an IUD. So then I had to get a biopsy. It felt just like a pap smear though they did use some sort of local anesthesia spray so maybe it would be worse if I hadn't had that.

I need to wait 7 days for the results.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week Six: Swim, Run, Bike

I know it's supposed to be swim, bike, run, but it's been a crazy, mixed up week and that includes my workouts today.

Last week ended with me doing a hill interval workout on the bike that caused me to tweak my calf. I had iced it and was hoping for the best. Unfortunately, it looks like I had hurt it more than I wanted to admit.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More tests means more test results means more tests

They are still trickling in my lab results. I still haven't got all the Bs but I do have folate now. My folate is yummy:

Folate, RBC 668
Reference range: GREATER THAN 280
Unit: ng/mL

I'll take it.

As for my ultrasound, I do not have a fibroid after all. Or even two fibroids. I have (and I quote):
an echogenic lesion ovoid in configuration within the endometrial canal. This measures 1.6 x 0.5 cm. There is Doppler blood flow in a portion of this in appearance that looks like a feeding vessel.
Yeah, I have no idea what that means. Except that I have to have follow up tests. But it's probably not anything serious. The weird thing is that I actually have symptoms that go with fibroids. The only symptoms I have that are related to polyps (which is the term my doctor used) is weird uterine bleeding, which is one of those vague symptoms like headaches that millions of health issues share.

So time to make another appointment for another test... oh joy, oh joy....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More tests

I usually have a mammogram along with my annual physical and this time I had a pelvic ultrasound to with it. I am pretty sure I've had one of these before because I vaguely remember having to drink a boatload of water and then hold it in without peeing before.

This year it was much harder though. I finished my 40 oz.  at 2:13, two minutes early and then IMMEDIATELY had to pee. But my appointment wasn't until 3:15. I got there 20 min. early and hoped they'd take me early. I told the gal I had to pee and she acted like she understood. But apparently I wasn't clear as 10 min. later I was still in the lobby and REALLY had to pee. So I went back and told her again and it turns out she hadn't even let the technician know I was there.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Labs at 2 years out

I finally got my lab results. For the most part, they range from acceptable to awesome. But...

Yeah, you guessed it. My proteins is as bad as ever. It's 5.8 when the normal range is 6.4 to 8.2 and last time it was 6.3. Argh!

My other protein-related numbers are okay, but not spectacular. On the other hand, I have no signs of anemia. My iron numbers are good (though down slightly from last year) and my blood counts are excellent:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stitches & Cottage Cheese

I had this stupid cyst that sprung up a few years ago and just wouldn't go away. It got a lot smaller when I lost weight, but didn't entirely disappear. So I finally got around to having it removed. It was an easy procedure. The worst part was being shot up with lidocane. Of course, I now have two stitches in my side and that means I can't swim until Sunday. So I'll miss Podium on Wed. I just realized this means I can't do my water running on Tuesday, either. Shoot.

I hope I don't have another week of missed workouts and craziness. I want to dial back on the running this week but I also am dialing back on the biking now that it gets dark so early during the week. I can't dial back on everything. So I am going to have to come up with a Plan B.

On a completely unrelated note, I did the cottage cheese test and I can still only eat about 6.5 oz of cottage cheese, just as I could at one year out. It's interesting because it feels like I can eat more. But my stomach is clearly the same size. I am realizing that a lot of it is what I eat and also how I eat.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week Seven: Setbacks

This has not been a good week as far as IMAZ prep has been concerned. I missed workouts all week. Then I was stupid and tried to ride my bike two days in a row, both with hills. I hurt my calf again.

I actually feel a little better now than I did earlier today when I was having a hissy fit, slamming doors, and stomping around.

That's because I iced my calf and it seems fine now. I was afraid I had really hurt it this morning when I did some hill interval work. I should have known better than to do this kind of workout (a) at all given my injury and (b) after climbing Mount Hamilton the day before.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hey, I'm 49

Well, I was yesterday, anyway. My resting pulse rate when I woke up was 49. That's the first time I've cracked the 40s -- that I know about anyway, since I don't measure every day. Usually I'm in the low 50s, with occasional forays over 55 that correspond to days I'm scheduled to rest anyway.

I told my family and said I was approaching Lance Armstrong territory here. Then MacBoy decided to be a smart-aleck and said to watch out I didn't turn into Lance and soon I'd have no balls. I pointed out I already have no balls and he said: There you go.

I don't think it's that easy to be a world class cyclist.

Anyway, I'm off for my long bike ride of the week. I'm taking my car into servicing in Milpitas and then biking from there to part-way up Mount Hamilton. It's my attempt to duplicate the Ironman Arizona course, which is very flat with a small 500 ft. rise before you turn around. My rise is going to be more than 500 ft. but not as much as if I went all the way to the top.

If I do it right, I'm going to do the loop twice, going faster the second time. If I do it wrong, I'll run out of time and will only be able to do it once.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life gets in the way of training

When people talk about real life getting in the way of training, it's usually things like family events taking place over the weekend or having to stay late at work. I went through a bit of that in the summer when I was on a crazy project where I had no life. I finally had to start doing my workouts anyway because I was more productive if I took off an hour or two and then came back to work fresh.

But yesterday I had a very unexpected thing happen. Just as I was about to leave to go to my gym to do my weekly water running, I got a text from Mr. Mac. It seemed that right when he got to the school to pick up Mini-Mac, he heard tires squealing and someone screaming. He ran down to check (along with a staff member who also heard the commotion and came out to check on it) and it was Mini-Mac standing on the median strip screaming "Oh my god" over and over and one of her school friends lying by the side of the road bleeding.

It seems the friend was trying to cross the road and got hit by a car! She was hurt badly enough that they strapped her on a board and life-flighted her to the local Children's hospital. Mini-Mac was very upset, but so was Mr. Mac. I can just imagine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week Eight: Santa Cruz Triathlon Race Report

I really signed up for Santa Cruz Triathlon because of the club competition. But then my mom and step-dad decided to come out since they won't be at IMAZ. Then, our club participation kind of fizzled. (But we still took 2nd place!)

In the meantime, I decided to use the race as a bit of a practice run for IMAZ. First, the bike course is an out and back of 40K along rolling hills with wind. So it was slightly shorter, but also slightly hillier than IMAZ, but as much like it as I'm likely to find in this area. Second, the run is fairly flat too. The swim is an ocean swim, but otherwise it was close enough.

I ended up being unhappy with my swim time, ecstatic with my bike split and okay about the run.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Notes from my annual physical

I generally get a physical around this time of year, which is also around when the kids are going back to school and need theirs and now it's also when I need to get my annual lab work done.

I had mine a few days ago and then did the lab work Friday. The first thing I noticed is that I'm always two pounds higher at the doctor's compared to home. I think that's because I no longer make a point to take off my shoes, wear light clothes and all the other tricks to come out as thin as possible on the scale. In fact, before my appointment this time, I ended up eating a snack and drinking a ton of water just because I was hungry and thirsty. It's kind of freeing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

I'm starting to understand people who say things like "My surgiversary was yesterday and I forgot!" It's not that I forgot, but I have been so busy that I haven't had time to do all the posts that I wanted to for this event. I haven't taken a picture of my scars. I didn't do my "Then and Now" chart. I haven't taken pictures or done my measurements.

Plus I'm just in a different place right now. I no longer think of myself as a person who struggles with my weight, but as someone who watches my weight. Other things occupy my attention now. I still weigh myself most days, but I have started not to log my food as much. I don't know if that is good or bad. I guess I'll find out.

Anyway, I have out-of-town company and a race on Sunday so I think it will be a while before I can post a more traditional "two years out" post.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week Nine: Time to Panic

So yesterday I realized my Ironman is only nine weeks away and I started to freak out a bit. On the one hand, I wish it was tomorrow because I want to attack it! On the other, I feel so far away from where I wanted to be at this point in the preparation. I feel about a month behind ... like it should be 12 weeks away, not nine. I'm not sure why, but nine seems much closer than ten did; maybe because I could fool myself that 10 weeks was practically 12.

My SVTC friends all assured me yesterday that panic at this stage is perfectly normal. So I guess I'm on schedule for something. Then, we all went in the Bounce House. (We were having our annual club picnic.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week Ten: Countdown to Ironman AZ

It's ten weeks until my Ironman, so I've decided to start a weekly taking stock sort of post. Ideally, I'll do one every Sunday since that is the end of my workout week.

So where am I?

Monday, September 6, 2010

My long-time goals at 2 years out

I realized the other day that I had accomplished most of my goals that I had set for myself in the beginning of this journey and even the ones that I added on as I went alone. So I was ripe for a crazy new goal. That's where Goofy's Challenge and the Ultraman came from. Having these goals, which are very long-term, is really energizing me. Most of my other remaining goals are not 100% under my control so it's good to have goals that are completely under my control.

It was also exciting to see that, even though I've been injured all season, I will actually attain most of my season goals after all. I hadn't expected that. I guess that's why it's good to revisit your goals periodically. The memory isn't always accurate and I was sure I wasn't going to make most of them because I was focused on the running goals.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Goals - Aug/Sept

I have been planning to do a monthly goals post for several months now, but I never seem to get around to it. So, it's four days late, but here's my summary of my Aug. goals and my new Sept. goals:

August Goals:
More "me" time - did okay but I'm still feeling "stretched" I think that's going to be my reality until I finish my Ironman
Heal my calf injury - it's much better. It's still not 100% but I went back to running and was able to continue to make progress instead of falling backwards like the last time I started running.
Do something to improve my work situation - I didn't do SQUAT!

Sept. goals:
Be able to run for 30 minutes by EOM - I am up to 11 min. Ha!
Continue to heal my calf injury
Work on Bike fitness
Do something to improve my work situation

Girl World

Do you ever get the feeling that everyone else attended some class or briefing or read some secret instruction manual that you somehow missed? I get that feeling all the time and have as far back as I can remember, starting with Kindergarten at least. There were probably moments before that, but school seemed like a place full of all this stuff that "everyone" knew that, for whatever reason, I didn't know. This feeling has lessened as I got older, but it never entirely disappeared.

And nowhere do I feel it more than when I have to deal with "Girl World."

Girl World is this mysterious other place full of rituals that I only dimly comprehend and have no natural aptitude for. It's full of people who know how to accessorize, which shops sell what kind of clothes, how to put on make-up, do their nails, style their hair, get hit on by guys and lots of other skills that flummox me.

Tired of eating

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm getting tired of figuring out how to eat enough. I know I need to eat well to fuel my workouts or my performance will suffer, but sometimes it's just such a chore. I'm starting to understand why people like Michael Phelps eat donuts and other crap every day. At least I'm not a guy who has to figure out how to eat 3000-4000 calorie a day!

It's not like everything I put in my mouth is high quality, either. I had frozen yogurt with toppings from those self-serve frozen yogurt places just yesterday and not all my toppings were healthy fresh fruit. Then I went to the Sports Basement party and I had some of the chocolate covered raisins and the M&Ms as well as a ginger snap cookie. But about 3/4 of the way through the cookie, I just got weary and sick of it. So I threw the rest away.

It doesn't help that lately I've just not been that hungry or that I still have a big resistance to cooking food for myself. If it's not ready-made, I tend to pass it up. Thank goodness for leftovers that I just have to heat up in the microwave!

I think I will force myself to make myself some scrambled eggs for lunch and see if I can break this cycle of food boredom and weariness.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aqua Jogging is Da Bomb

I have been meaning to try this: running in the pool, but I wasn't quite sure how to do it. But I borrowed the required floatation belt on Monday and I know I must get back to running so yesterday I made myself do it. I told myself it was my "do something every day that scares you" for Tuesday.

Well, it was just awesome.

First, it turned out to be dead easy to do. I was afraid I would be floating and sinking all over the place or "running" all bent over like some people I saw in a video on aqua jogging. But it was pretty easy to have good form and to keep my head above water.

Second, it really is like running especially if you remember to keep your heels down rather than run like your feet are flippers.

Third, it wasn't that hard but it was obviously a good workout. I thought I might be able to go for 10 minutes so my plan was to do three 10 minute sets. But I was able to go for 30 minutes pretty easily and even getting to 45 wasn't too bad. I pushed myself to do an hour but the last five minutes were kind of brutal. But I was happy because I think if I can do for 45-60 min. in the pool, that I should be able to do 30 min. on the road once I get back to road running. I was worried I'd have to start with 10 min. and it would take me until my Ironman to even do an hour.

Finally, I really enjoyed the exercise. I enjoyed it so much that I am thinking about doing all my "long" runs in the pool even after my calf is completely healed. I think that will serve me well in letting me work on my running "engine" without beating the crap out of my body.

I can't wait to do it again!

Eastern vs. Western Medicine

I am an evidence-based kind of person. But I also believe that our bodies are interacting systems and this recent trend in medicine to treat people like they are a collection of body parts is not good medicine.

This puts me in an interesting position when it comes to things like Vitamin Supplements and Acupuncture. Right now I'm taking both "whole food" supplements and having needles stuck in me a few times a week and I have to admit that I am skeptical.

My calf is getting better but I don't feel like it's getting better any faster than if I wasn't taking handfuls of pills three times a day, smearing smelly liquids on my calf and getting needles stuck in me. For one thing, I still haven't stressed it by going back to running so of course it's healing. Plus, I'm back to PT and I feel like I'm getting better no faster than when I was doing PT alone.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A week of doctors

It's that time of year again. Time for my yearly check-ups. Time to see Dr. Awesome. Plus the fiscal year rolled over so I'm going to get some crowns fixed and start back to PT.

Yesterday I saw Dr. Awesome. He was pretty happy with me. He's still cautioning me about what will happen when and if I don't exercise as much. But I've already been through that this winter and will probably go through a mini version of that every winter when I can't be outdoors as much. So I'm not too worried. I know that my hunger will decrease, if I let it, and that tracking my food will help me through it. If I can get through this winter when I'm more than a year out from my losing phase without a major gain, I think I'll be okay. I guess we'll see.

He did use words like phenomenal and exceptional to describe my results. That was nice.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Vineman Full AquaBike


I decided to do this race at the end of May when I realized that I was in funk due to my injury. Although it was a big race in terms of time and distance, I was treating it more like training. The whole point was to have a reason to work on my swim and my bike while I couldn't run and also have something scary to look forward to that I had to train for to complete without dying. Having a PR or go into it racing for a particular time was just not supposed to be the point.

Of course, being the competitive bugger I am, I did have time goals. I want to do my Ironman swim in 1.5 hours, give or take. So I wanted to see if I could do that here. I'd been swimming shorter distances on that pace, but I hadn't done the full 2.4 miles yet. And, the last time I'd swum here, it had taken me longer than I'd expected.

For the bike, I had biked the first 56 miles of the course and had a horrible time -- around 4 hours and 10 minutes. Double that and add in a bit extra because you generally go at a slower place when it's a longer distance and I was afraid that it would take me 8.5 hours on the bike -- which would not make me happy.

However, I knew I'd done things wrong on that ride. I pushed too hard on the beginning part of the course, which was hilly, but not that hilly, and I mismanaged my nutrition. Plus, we didn't get out on the course until around 11am, which meant we had a lot of wind to deal with later in the day and also it was a hotter day overall.

I was hoping that, with the earlier start, better nutrition, knowing not to under-estimate those early hills, and having aide on the course that I didn't have to stop for, that I'd be able to do better. Based on my training times, I thought finishing in under eight hours was possible, but I really wanted to do it in more like 7.5 hours. Even though I kind of knew that wasn't going to happen.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Don't be the Food Police

I know, I'm supposed to be working my race report. But I'm steaming mad about something that happened over on the "My Fitness Pal" site where I log my food.

I came back from dinner and went to log my food. Of course, because of my race yesterday, I'm way behind on calories and I've been eating like crazy all day trying to catch up. Which means, anyone looking at my food diary and only looking at today would see that I'm over my "daily" allotment and by quite a bit. (And yet, I'm still behind in my calories for the week... sometimes I just love being a triathlete!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Calories, Protein & Carbs, Exercise & Weight Loss in the first year

People are always asking "how many calories/how much carbs/protein did you eat while losing/when on liquids/now". Since I have all these spreadsheets with all my daily intake and monthly totals, I figured I'd turn it all into a handy-dandy chart instead of relying on memory. So here it is:

Time Period





Week 1




1 lb.

Light Walking

Week 2




4 lb.

Light Walking

--- started soft foods

Weeks 3-6:




9 lb.

2 hr / week

--- started regular food

Week 7-9:




9 lb.

1.5 hr / week

Weeks 10-13:




5 lb.

3 hr. / week

Weeks 14-17:




7 lb.

4.5 hr / week

Month 5:




7 lb.

5.5 hr / week

Month 6:




10 lb.
6 hr / week

---- normal BMI achieved

Month 7:




8 lb.

6.25 hr / week

Month 8:




6 lb.

6.5 hr / week

Month 9:




6 lb.

9 hr / week

Month 10:




3 lb.

9 hr / week

---- goal weight achieved

Month 11:





9.25 hr / week

Month 12:





9.5 hr / week

At some point in my second year, I started keeping track of calories burned in exercise so I could see if my net calories were changing as my weight fluctuated. My total calories tend to run between 1950 and 2150 while my net calories run between 1450 and 1650.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Off the PPI?

I've been hesitating to post this because I didn't want to jinx it. But I haven't taken Prilosec in four weeks! I didn't have any issues at all until about 1.5 weeks out when I did get a case of continuous heartburn for a few days. When I had worked my way up to 2 Pepcid's a day, I did wonder if I should just go back to the Prilosec.

But before I could get around to buying any, everything evened out. I now get heartburn without taking the PPI as much as I did when I was taking it. Which means some mild symptoms in the evening a couple of times a week. Nothing that can't be managed.

I am hopeful that not being on an acid blocker will help me absorb protein better. I guess I'll find out next month when I get my labs done.

Catfish Crawl Report

I signed up for the Catfish Crawl out at UVAS reservoir on a whim earlier in the week. I knew I wanted to finish off this week with a 2.0 mile swim and I was pretty sure if I just made plans to meet people for a casual OWS, like I normally do, that I'd end up blowing it off while I wouldn't blow off a race I paid for.

This turned out to be really smart on my part as I had a lot of trouble convincing myself to get out of bed this morning and I definitely would have skipped something free.

Friday, July 23, 2010

You can't drop me!

Today is my normal Thurs. night bike ride. And, for the first time since I started doing this ride back in March of '09, I did NOT. GET. DROPPED!

I could see people on the ride the entire way and even rode most of the way back with one of them. During that time we passed two of our group who went the wrong way, then they came back and passed us. Then, I decided we needed to catch up with them.

So we did. (A short offering to the Traffic Light fairy helped with that.)

The four of us rode into the parking lot together. What a great feeling.

I have to say, it's a lot more fun on a group ride if you actually have someone to ride with. One of the reasons I like our new hill route so much is that it has lots of optional loops so I get to see people throughout most of the ride as they come from an optional section and pass me, even if I am riding alone most of the time.

Maybe next time I do the hill route, I won't get dropped either!

Oh and, not only did I not get dropped, but we got back in enough time that I'm thinking I may do one of the optional parts of the route in a few weeks. I already go all the way out to Portolla, which is the Group 3-4 route and not the Group 5-6 route. Dare I work my way up to the Group 1-2 route by season end? We'll see!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's all about the bike, babee!

Lance Armstrong says "It's not the bike, it's the engine" and he has a point. It's not like all I have to do to ride like Lance is buy his bike. On the other hand, if it really isn't about the bike, then why does he have such an expensive one?

I'd even offer to trade to see if he'd say it's the engine then, but I like my bike. She rides like butter and I'm definitely faster on her than I am on my trainer bike. I also get a lot of complements on her when I'm out and about. She's definitely pretty and I'm liking the new blue bar tape better than the white. It definitely doesn't show the dirt as well.

My new aero bars are cute too. They remind me of the horns on a steer, mostly because they are so short (like me). I'm finding them pretty comfortable and fairly stable. I like having an extra position in my back pocket, particularly one that seems to go easy on my back. When I'm particularly tired, I can rest a bit without losing power. I like that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Clean living

Everywhere I go, people are talking about eating "clean." What this basically means is no processed foods. It sounds so healthy ... eating lean protein, vegetables and fruits with some unprocessed grains thrown in. It's definitely more the way I want to eat on a day-to-day basis.

So what's the catch?

The catch is that it's almost impossible to do. Even many so-called "healthy" foods are full of added sugar or other chemicals. To avoid adding sugar, some add artificial sweeteners. Alternatively, they add sugar but use "organic" sugar and tout their products as "all natural". But they are still full of sugar.

The other catch I've found is that foods that you think of as being unprocessed -- cheeses, cottage cheese -- often have a lot of extra "crap" thrown into them. This is usually done to give them a longer shelf life or to make them appear closer to our own ideas of perfection.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Feeling uncommunicative

That's probably the worse thing for a blogger. I do have thoughts. But they are jumbled. So I've been putting off posting. I just realized I hadn't posted anything here in two weeks though!

Part of it is my job. I don't talk about my job (or my marriage) much on the blog because I am well aware that this is a public place and that things "get around." I have no problem talking about me, but my job involves other people -- people who may not be too happy to hear what I think about them and then I still have to work with them!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm in!

Not with the "in" crowd, but the Vineman Full AquaBike! Yeah, baby!!

That didn't take long and now I don't have to sweet talk someone into doing the run part of the Full Relay instead.

I'm so stoked. And a little scared. Which is good because that's part of why I do these things -- to push me out of my comfort zone.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eating with Awareness and Enjoyment

I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to eat with distraction and divided attention, not awareness and enjoyment!

This is in spite of being told by every weight loss program I've tried and numerous articles about how important it is to pay attention to your food, to present it well, to enjoy every bite. But I'm always busy and trying to do too many things and eating doesn't seem that important. So I do it at the computer or I rush through dinner so I can get back to the computer or my workout or whatever it is that seems more important than paying attention to my food.

So, in an effort to get my butt in gear, I'm going over Karen Koenig's tips for "Eating with Awareness and Enjoyment".

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting my mojo back

I've kind of been in a funk lately. I was pretty excited after Wildflower because I was happy with my performance. I figured all I had to do was take it easy for a month and my calf would heal up and I'd be golden for Barb's Race.

Except, it's a month later and my calf is still acting up. Now, it's much, much better than it had been. I can't feel the bad spot any more and I only have discomfort when I push myself too hard (like all the walking I did at FanimeCon) and my muscles aren't nearly as tight as they were before.

But I still can't run and my experience with the elliptical was frustrating as well -- I think I hurt myself more on that than I did running but with no symptoms at the time to tell me when to stop. Ugh.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Elliptical - I don't get it

I had tried an Elliptical once before and hadn't liked it. But I had this idea that it would make a good substitute for running. So I tried again on Tuesday.

I still don't like the Elliptical.

I talked to the gal who manages our gym at work about it and she said they can be tough for shorties like me. I found my feet kept moving forward on the plates until the toes were smashed up against the front and I was sure I was going to fall off. I also couldn't deal with the arm pole thingies at all. They just jerked my arms around and I couldn't get them to move as far as they needed to either. My arms aren't long enough.

They are nothing like running to me either. I tried very hard to do "running" with POSE form. All I got was a sore right knee. They really put you in a heel strike position and I think it's a bad idea to practice that.

But I was able to go 2.25 miles with only mild discomfort in my calf near the end. So I was thinking I'd give it another shot. Until I woke up sore and stiff on Tues. and am still in pain on Wed. So it didn't hurt my calf directly at the time, but it hurt my calf indirectly. Just as much as running, if not more.

No more elliptical for me! I'll have to think of something else, I guess.

In the meantime, I didn't swim yesterday due to my monthly support meeting and I didn't bike today even though I brought my bike (and my trainer in case it rained) all the way across the bay. I had to stay at work and get something done before I could leave.

Plus, it's my 21 year anniversary today so even though we're doing the date thing on Sunday, I wanted to spend some time with Mr. Mac on the actual anniversary day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That explains a lot

I just read this article about smart snacking and in the middle of it was this:
Is it that time of the month? Women are most likely to binge or overeat in the two weeks prior to their periods if they've ovulated (most women on the Pill do not ovulate).

Menstrual flow is triggered by the secretion of progesterone, which is thermogenic, or calorie burning. Thus, without so much as lifting an extra three-pound weight -- or finger, for that matter -- your body burns more calories than it does during the rest of the month, and your hunger kicks in to compensate.

In a study at the University of British Columbia, women ate an average of 260 extra calories a day when they were ovulating.
As I read this, the light blub went on! That's why I have a "feeding frenzy" every couple of months or so -- always around when I'm supposedly ovulating -- where I frequently end up eating about 200-250 more calories than my online food journal says I've burned, yet I don't gain any weight.

No wonder I'm hungrier and eating more. I'm burning more.

It doesn't happen every month but I'm pretty sure I don't ovulate every month. (At my age, I probably shouldn't be ovulating at all. Which begs the question: is this why a lot of women gain weight after menopause? Because they aren't burning an extra 260 calories a day for a week or so every month?)

On a related note: Can you imagine how much more effective their programs would be if places like Weight Watchers gave you more points the week you ovulated? Instead of having all these women beating themselves up about how "weak" they are because they can't stop snacking during that time, they'd be able to take advantage of what's going on to either lose extra weight (not eat the extra points) or to indulge themselves a bit so they don't feel so deprived.

I wonder what other crazy things our bodies do each month that aren't accounted for in the current theories of calorie processing and weight management.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cottage Cheese Test - 20 months

I've been feeling like I can eat more lately. In fact, I know I can. So I was worried that my sleeve had grown too much. Except, once in a while, I will not be able to eat any more than I could eat at 6 months out. It was confusing.

I decided to do The Cottage Cheese Test to see if my sleeve is any bigger.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I've been feeling frustrated lately. This was the month that I was supposed to heal up my calf. But I still can't run. It's exactly six months to my Ironman and I can't run more than a mile at a time. Plus I have only two PT visits left until August 1st. I'm starting to panic.

I find swimming makes things feel better. Biking is neutral. But running hurts. I don't really want to keep running but I'm supposed to do small gentle running to test things out.

At Track on Tuesday, I was doing exactly that -- taking it easy, running slowly and interspersing my running with lots of walking and -- boom -- something went wrong with my calf. It felt like when a spring breaks in a couch. I walked back to my car and I thought I wasn't going to make it. I was cursing up a blue streak in my head and convinced I had done major permanent damage to my leg.

But as soon as I got off my leg (sitting in the car) I felt much better.

That's the way this injury has gone. I run, I hurt really badly, I stop running and two hours later I hardly hurt at all. Okay, I hurt, but not like when I'm running when it feels like I've done horrible things to my leg.

Then again, I've had discomfort through pain all week. Usually my running pain only lasts a day or two.

At least my calf always feel better when I swim. And not too bad when I bike. It's everything else that hurts it.

I just don't know what to do. Obviously, what I've been doing isn't working. And I need to get this taken care of or my Ironman experience is going to be total crap.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We all need some. Okay, maybe I shouldn't overgeneralize. I need it.

I mostly get it from logging my food at My Fitness Pal. Some people like something a bit more public ... like posting what they eat every day on a message board or on their blog. I consider blogging my food to be too boring to read and logging on a bunch of web sites too much work. I've already got three places I log my exercise and three places I log my weight on Mondays. God forbid I end up with several places I log my food as well!

Last week, I went through a period where I didn't want to log my food. Now, I don't always log as it is. I won't do it if I'm at of town and have poor access to the internet. I figure doing it in those cases is a bit obsessive. I do write down what I eat though. Sometimes, when I get back home, I'll log it after the fact, but a lot of times I won't bother.

But this was different.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Rehab month

My June race fell through and I haven't actually put down the money for Barb's Race in late July so my PT said to stop training for races and start concentrating on healing up my calf. Sounds good to me!

I keep worrying that I'll lose all my fitness and not be ready for my big races if I don't train. So I've been trying to "train smart" and do what I can without aggravating my calf. But I know I keep going overboard, especially with the running.

This month I am supposed to take it easy, only run to discomfort, not failure, and don't do anything else that hurts my calf. It sounds like a good month to work on my swim stroke and take easy bike rides. I did that in Dec. and it really helped with the calf.

Of course, this means my #1 position on the Trips for Kids/Synchros leader board is in jeopardy for May. I think somehow I'll manage.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wildflower Weekend - For real

I have so much to talk about that I don't where to begin. How about:

I finished the Wildflower Long Course! I am Half an Ironman!

But before that lots of stuff happened, some cool and some not so cool.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Endurance Training & the Sleeve

A lot of people ask me how I can get in the calories I need to in order to train for endurance events with a sleeve. In the early days after most weight loss surgeries, most people have trouble getting in their 800 calories a day and can't imagine eating 1200 or 1600 let alone 2000, 3000 or more.

However, as people who struggle with regain know, over time it gets all too easy... you learn what you have to do to get in the food you need and/or want. The trick for me is to figure out how to eat enough to fuel my workouts, but not in a way that I am breaking all the good habits I learned when I was only able to eat a small amount. A secondary goal is to not to wake up the Carb Monster with his incessant cravings.

I have a number of strategies that are divided into three types of eating: Bariatric Eating, Fueling and Indulgences.

Monday, April 26, 2010

114 :-)

That's what my scale said on Saturday. Or was it Friday? Anyway, since I posted a whining, complaining post about getting up to 119 in the winter, I figured I better post that I'm back down. I pretty much expected this to happen but I wasn't 100% sure as being able to maintain without a struggle is still pretty new to me. (Hence the winter angst.)

I'm trying to gain muscle right now and actually don't really want the scale to be going down. My goal was to lose 3-5 lb. of fat and replace it with 3-5 lb. of muscle. I'm losing the fat, but the muscle gain has been smaller than I'd like. I'm trying to eat more to combat that and, so far, it's been HARD. Now that's a shock.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Protein is up!

When I saw my PCP for my eye infection, I also talked to her about my protein and that the lab didn't measure my albumin. So she had them redo everything. I got protein, albumin and pre-albumin. And, this time, my protein was almost normal! It was 6.3 and normal starts at 6.4. My albumin is back to where it was pre-op as well. My pre-albumin is also in the normal range.

So I think I'll keep eating a lot of protein and see what happens. I'm hoping eventually all those numbers will be in the middle of the range instead of the low end.

It does seem like they continue to trend up and the 5.8 number is an aberration. Maybe it was just a bad draw.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Choosing Satisfying Foods

It's been a while since I revisited the 50 Tips for becoming a "normal" eater. This next section is one near and dear to me as it's something I actually figured out on my own and it has changed my life and started me on the path to having a normal relationship with food.

It's really all about eating what satisfies you and not what society thinks is satisfying or you think you "should" be eating. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about it once talking about my "worth it" scale of food choice.

Anyway, the tips are:

Don’t get hung up on what other people are eating, but ask yourself what you would like to eat.

Never eat without stopping to consider what you want first. Spend time making a satisfying choice.

Showdown @ Sundown - First Tri of the '10 season

Along the lines of "best laid plans" comes my first triathlon of the season, which took place yesterday.

I was so psyched for this one. First of all, instead of starting at the crack of dawn, like so many tris do, it started at 4:00 pm! And, instead of getting yet another floppy, too-big-for-me t-shirt, they gave out socks! I love socks.

I got there way too early, around 12:40 pm and had picked up my race packet and set up my transition area well before 2:00 pm. There were a lot of people doing their first triathlon in my rack and I talked to them and encouraged them just like people had done to me last year. It was so much fun to be the experienced one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Best laid plans

I think the worst part about being injured isn't the injury. Sure, it sucks to be in pain and it sucks to not be able to do things that you used to be able to do. Still, the worst part -- at least for a control freak like myself -- is what it does to your plans. Having grand plans and seeing them fall apart is very frustrating to me.

It started with IMAZ. My big plan was that I'd do Big Kahuna (BK) and after that I'd know if I wanted to move up from a Half-ironman (HIM) to an Ironman (IM). If I didn't like doing Big Kahuna, I wouldn't sign up for IMAZ. But, with the injury, I didn't do BK. So then I had to decide if I wanted to do IMAZ blind. (I decided to do it, in case you were wondering.)

The next plan to fall apart was my plan to cross-train like mad all winter. I ended up taking off most of Dec. to heal up instead. Then, it took me a lot longer to get back in the groove than I expected so I wasn't putting in the hours or the training I was doing last year to get ready for BK.

The end result is that I'm doing Wildflower as my first HIM. Undertrained and injured. Gulp.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NUT consult

I promised my PCP that I'd see my NUT about my low protein so today I called her and we had a consult over the phone. The first thing she said was that I need my albumin number as that's a more accurate indication of my protein status. Told you!

Anyway, I'm going to make some tweaks to my diet. Less nuts -- apparently not only do they have very little protein but it's not very bioavailable -- and more eggs. Guess I have to stop being so lazy and make more hard-boiled eggs!

Plus there are some new recipes for egg bites I've been meaning to try, but just haven't had time.

I'm also going to drink a protein drink in the afternoon. Hopefully that will allow me to overcome my protein bar addiction. (I keep saying I don't want to eat so many protein bars but then I keep buying them!)

I'm going to do this for a few months and get retested. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Misadventures of Madcap Mac (Wildflower Training Weekend)

What a weekend I've had!

This weekend is my club's annual Wildflower Training Weekend. We go down to Lake San Antonio, camp out, and try out the course. I've been looking forward to it ever since I did Wildflower last year. I took Friday off from work and even convinced Mr. Mac to come down with me. We decided we'd take the  RV (a.k.a. The Behemoth) and have an over-the-top camping experience.

Things went pretty well at first. We did most of our packing the night before, ran a few errands in the morning, and were off by 12:15 pm, only 15 minutes later than planned. We deliberately allowed ourselves a lot of time to get there because The Behemoth isn't very fast and sometimes she's finicky.

So we're driving down Hwy 101 looking at the scenery, Mr. Mac driving, and me trying to catch up in my "Succeeding with Agile" book for my work book club. We get about 30 min. south of Salinas -- 2/3 of the way there -- when the engine sputters. And dies. Mr. Mac does his best to get her to go all the way to the exit, but we drift to a stop about 100 yards away. The exit and its Chevron station are there, taunting us, as we sit by the side of the road getting rocked by every semi and RV that passes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hair = Good; Protein = Bad

The good news is that I haven't lost any hair in over a month. I'm not even losing any in the shower these days so that means I'm losing less hair than I was pre-op!

The bad news is that my protein is lower than ever. Unfortunately, the doc who ordered my labs is an idiot and only had them test my protein instead of doing a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel like my regular doc would have ordered. So I have no idea what my albumin level is. And that's important because low albumin could indicate liver disease. Especially if the BUN is also low.

Last time my albumin and other numbers were fine which made the low protein less troublesome. Without the comprehensive panel, though, I have no context for the protein number.

So tomorrow I get to call the office and bitch and get them to order the proper tests.

In the meantime, my PCP wants me to see a nutritionist. I'm happy enough to do that, but I know my nutrition isn't the issue. I eat plenty of protein from a wide variety of sources. I eat 120 to 150 g of protein a day from a combination of meat (chicken, pork, beef), eggs, dairy, soy and whey. I'm not sure what else I can do!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Winter '10 Edition

Yes, technically it's Spring. But apparently the weather doesn't know that. So, as far as I'm concerned, it's still Winter.

The Good: Drove down to Santa Cruz to swim in the ocean for Easter.

The Bad: The water was cold and choppy -- both the coldest I've swum and the choppiest. The first 20 minutes, we only got out to the edge of the pier.

The Ugly: I haz had hypothermia. I managed to scare myself and a bunch of other people too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

First Open Water Swim of the season

Okay, I now feel like the triathlon season has officially started since I just did my first Open Water Swim.

I'd forgotten how much I love to swim in open water. I mean, I know I love it, but it felt good to feel it and how it's just so much more exhilarating than the pool. (Plus -- no turns!) It was even better than I remembered.

I tagged along to the NTTS (my club's New to the Sport program) workout since my main OWS partner won't come out until the water hits the 60s. This was my first OWS of the season and also EVER last year. I didn't do too badly last year, but I was so much slower than the good athletes. This year, I was right up there with the strong beginner swimmers. It's nice to see progress.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good-bye, Valley Girl

My friend Valley Girl killed herself last Friday. I am in shock. I knew she was struggling with depression, but I thought she was dealing with it and things would get better for her.

What really makes me mad (at the waste, not at her) is that she had so much going for her. She was pretty, smart and talented and a very nice person too. I always looked forward to interacting with her on the Obesity Help message boards.

But, as she got further out from her surgery, she came around less. That's not that unusual. I don't go there as much either. I'm too busy! But, I think in her case, she didn't come around because of the depression. It's easier to be happy and successful with minor complaints out in public (and, even a support board where you are supposed to be able to let it all hang out is a public place) than to be struggling.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday, According to my sleeve

People liked my "what I can eat" post so much and found it helpful so I decided to copy my friend Eggface and do a day in my life with regards to eating. Since this is just the eating part of my day, I figured maybe my sleeve could explain it better than I can. Take it away Sleeve!

This is a typical breakfast -- a protein shake made with an extra scoop of powder and Benefiber. My human, MacMadame, makes it up at the last possible second before heading out the door and forces most of it into me in the car on the way to work. Sometimes I rebel and make her queasy, but today she took her time and finished the shake once she got into work. She really ought to feed me as soon as she gets up though instead of wasting time on Facebook, though.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To PS or not to PS

I've been thinking about the subject of loose skin and plastics surgery for a while and was planning to make a video about it for over a month now. But this week it became the "in" topic on the internet with a series of videos posted to YouTube, so I figured I better get off my butt and actually make mine.

It was harder than I thought to get my thoughts coherent, to flow in the right order and to take less than 10 minutes. I finally got a perfect take and, when I played it back, what do I see but my diva daughter running behind me in two different spots. I was so engrossed in what I had to say that I hadn't even noticed! (She's still grounded.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nashua Nutrition vs. Home-made Protein Hot Chocolate

I screwed up and ran out of my HealthSmart/Healthwise Protein Hot Chocolate. (Also, known as "Mommy's Crack.") I get it under the Healthwise label from my surgeon's office and under the HealthSmart label from Nashua Nutrition. It's the same stuff though.

I could have gotten more on Wed. when I went to my bariatric support meeting, but I thought what I had would last longer and a certain check hadn't shown up yet so I couldn't have afforded it anyway. Then I forgot to bring the box I have in my cube home with me to get me through the weekend.

So necessity caused me to make up my own batch from random ingredients I had around the house.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tummy ache

Woah, my tummy hurts.

I think it was the oreo cream cheese pie. I hope this doesn't mean my lactose intolerance is getting worse and I won't be able to eat cheese any more.

Though, so far, except for straight milk, the only thing I've had trouble with is ice cream. And now this pie. So only being able to eat a small amount of ice cream or cream pie isn't the worst thing in the world.

But not being able to eat yogurt or cheese would really suck. Those are staples of my diet and also they are yummy.

I guess I'll have to keep an eye on this to see how it progresses.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I could never do what you do

Anyone who has ever done anything out of the ordinary has probably been told this at least once.

I was reading an article about Karen Stewart, a 65 year old woman with MS who walks marathons. Near the end of the article was this exchange:
"When I meet with other patients and share my story, some of them will say, 'So what, I can never do what you do,'" Stewart said. "My message is really one of hope. Maybe you can't do what I do, but you can do more. We're all capable of doing more than what we do. Wherever you're at, just get out of that comfort zone." [emphasis mine]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Google Bike Maps

If you have even one biking friend, you have probably heard that Google Maps has added bike routes. I'm so happy! I've been doing bike routes by using the walking directions and then modifying them when they left the road to stay on the road. It was better than nothing, but not ideal.

So today I had to put my car in the shop and I decided I'd bike home. I used Google Maps to fix my route but I didn't like the route it suggested to me. I rode a similar route before on the bike and I thought theirs was too complicated. I did my best to get the route that I remembered taking and printed it out.

I found that, if I folded the printout in half, lengthwise, that it fit well in my Road Map holder thingie. But the way Google Maps has the info laid out, I could see the miles between each turn and the map of the intersection or I could see the turn by turn directions with estimated times. Since the estimated times are completely meaningless (unless you happen to bike as fast as they assume you will, which is slower than I bike and that's pretty slow), but the miles are not, I wanted to have the miles with the turn-by-turn directions.

But it was okay doing the turn-by-turns without the miles. Not ideal, but okay.

Unfortunately, my changes to the suggested route had me making a few scary left turns and going up a BIG hill. Next time I think I'll stick closer to what Google Maps suggests.

The other bad part was that I had put my new temporary fenders on. It rained the day before and I was afraid the streets would still be wet. Well, apparently there is some sort of art to adjusting those things because no matter what I did, they rubbed. I had to stop numerous times and fix them and they still rubbed.

On and there was also a bad head wind. (And yet, as much as that slowed me down, I still finished faster than Google Maps predicted.) I am getting better at dealing with the wind though and it's good practice for IMAZ.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hydrostatic Body Fat Testing

I've been trying to get an accurate body fat assessment for a while now. I had mine tested last summer with calipers, but calipers tend to over-estimate body fat on people who've lost enough weight to have loose skin. (The loose skin throws the test off.) My fancy-dancy expensive scale tells me body fat %, muscle mass, hydration level, etc. but it seemed to me to read low. For example, it was telling me I had 10-12% body fat at a time when I clearly had more than essential body fat. My older, cheaper Tanita has always wildly overestimated body fat % -- it told me that mine was 70% at a time when it was closer to 55%.

I had a DEXA scan this Fall, but unfortunately, the machine PAMF uses doesn't do body fat. (Heck, they didn't even do a full body scan on my bones!)

So I was quite excited that Sports Basement's TriFest on Saturady included a company doing body fat testing with a dunk tank. This method, hydrostatic, used to be the Gold Standard before the DEXA scan came along so it's pretty darn accurate. And the best part is that they were only charging $20!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mental victory of sorts

I was supposed to do a 5K Time Trial run yesterday. Usually, when I do a TT, I push myself as hard as I can the whole way. Since running fast tends to aggravate my calf and since I haven't run more than two miles at once, I was not looking forward to this particular workout. In fact, I was dreading it.

I tried putting it off. But I knew I had to do it or it would haunt me. I've run 3 miles a couple of times and even 4 miles once. But I had breaks and I was going at "calf" pace (which is slightly slower than T pace) for most of it. I had built up 5K in my mind as some sort of watershed distance and I wasn't convinced I could do it.

I started out running as fast as I could and got about ... .26 miles. Then I died. I realized that this wasn't going to work. For one thing, I'd hadn't warmed up and my legs were dead. Oops. I was also going the wrong way (so I'd end up with 2.5 miles, not 3.1). Oops again. I was also really thirsty and hadn't brought any water with me. So I looped around back to the house at an easy pace for my warm up.

Then I started over.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Getting in touch with my hunger

Something that has been hard for me is dealing with hunger. Before my surgery, I was pretty much hungry all the time. I could eat a very large lunch and be hungry half an hour later. I knew intellectually that I couldn't really be starving, but the voices in my head were screaming at me that I was STARVING and that I would DIE if I didn't get something to eat.

It wasn't until I learned about ghrelin, that I understood what was going on. It was gherlin that was telling my brain that I was starving and, like the men and rats in the various experiments who were injected with ghrelin and then went nuts trying to satisfy their "hunger", I would eventually feel compelled to quiet this urge.

While I was preparing for surgery, I read people's stories online and they talked about being years out from surgery and still not feeling hungry -- that they eat because it's time and they know they have to, not because their brain tells them they they must. It sounded like my idea of heaven and I held on to those stories and minimized the ones from people who still struggled with hunger.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Swim, glorious swim

Today I felt like a fish. I felt like I was just ripping through the water and also that the pool had mysteriously gotten shorter than last week. I love it when everything comes together like that. Especially since I was extremely UNmotivated to go to swimming this week.

Not only was it cold out, but it was supposed to be raining. I also couldn't remember if this was the week the schedule changed so I came for the 6:30 pm start time just in case. Naturally, it was the week where I had a choice between 6 pm and 7 pm so I was either very late for the 6 pm or extremely early for the 7 pm.

I decided to hang out in the locker room until 6:45 and then come out early and swim some warm-up laps. (I didn't think I'd last if I start swimming them at 6:30.) Because of that, I was able to get in 450 yards in warm-up and then the full 2100 yards I can get in during the official swim hour. (Okay, my "hour" has 65 minutes in it. For now...)

Plus, the rain held off until we were done -- just some sprinkles when I came out of the locker room and the skies didn't open up until I was five minutes from home.

So, once again, I managed to swim longer than I'd ever swam before for the third week in a row. If this keeps up, I'll actually get to the 2800-2900 yards in a hour that I'm aiming for. (I figure, if I can swim that many yards in an hour, I'll be able to do the 2.4 miles of my Ironman in 1.5 hours and that's my goal.)

Now, watch, next week I'll have one of those "I can't remember how to swim" weeks. But, even if I do, I had this week to be a fish and I intend to enjoy it while I can and hopefully the memory of it will stay in my body so I can keep repeating it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My vitamin regime

People ask me about my vitamins so I thought I'd document what I take and how I take them.

First, here's everything I take every day including medicine and the containers I use to hold a week's supply:

Going from left to right, we have:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Exercise trumps genes

I found this article today and it made me happy and it made me think ...
Body weight is one of the most highly regulated genetic traits.
This is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that it is almost impossible to find genetically identical individuals (or monozygotic twins) with marked differences in body weight.
In contrast, it is much easier to find non-identical twins (who only share some of their genes but the same environment) with great differences in body weight.
Despite this strong influence of genes on body weight, lifestyle can very much make a difference.
This was now demonstrated by Tuija Leskinen and colleagues from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, who after combing through thousands of twin pairs from the Finnish Twin Cohort, identified seven genetically identical (monozygotic) and nine non-identical (dizygotic) middle-aged (50-74 years) same-sex twin pairs who reported a long-term discordance for physical activity (International Journal of Obesity).
Irrespective of the genetic make up, the physically inactive co-twins had a 50% greater visceral fat area, a 170% higher liver fat score, and 54% more intramuscular fat.
This study clearly demonstrates that even in individuals who share the same genes and/or similar childhood environments, regular physical exercise can prevent the accumulation of high-risk fat over time.
Thus, whatever your genetic background or early childhood environment, it is better to be regularly physically active than sedentary (who would have guessed?).


Sometimes I get upset with how people talk about themselves on the weight loss message boards. They call themselves names, beat themselves up over every transgression, no matter how small, and just aren't very nice to themselves. I can't decide if I want to smack some sense into them or give them a big hug. I definitely want to say: Don't talk to yourself like that!

Our self-talk can be so powerful. I really think being mean to yourself puts you into a cycle of failure. Maybe people do this because they think it will motivate them to clean-up their act. But I don't see that happening, at least not in the long run. Sometimes I see people letting themselves off the hook after their self-scolding. (I was mean to myself so now I deserve to treat myself with food?) Other times they get so down on themselves so often that they come to think of themselves as not being worthy of reaching their goals, which leads to self-sabotage and giving up.

In her article "50 TIPS TO HELP YOU SUCCEED AT “NORMAL” EATING", Karen Koenig gives a number of tips about self-talk. Some of them struck me as too "psycho babble-ish" but there are a couple that really speak to me. Such as:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My long-term goals

It's been a while since I re-visited my long-term goals. I could see that they are very out-of-date and in need of being updated. Here's my latest list:
  1. (completed)Get off my BP meds
  2. (completed)Get rid of my plantar fasciitis once and for all
  3. (completed)Get rid of my GERD
  4. (completed)Go swimming with my daughter and stop making excuses every time she asks because I don't want to deal with appearing in a bathing suit in public
  5. (completed)Be at least a size 10, maybe smaller, and to shop in regular stores and not just the fat old lady department at Macys
  6. (completed)Get down to 175
  7. (completed)No longer be clinically obese
  8. (completed)Get down to 155
  9. (completed)Have a normal BMI
  10. (completed)Get down to 125 (possible goal weight?)
  11. (completed)Be in a true size 6
  12. (completed)Have a body fat percentage in the 18 - 22% range
  13. Get my resting pulse rate into the low 50s (still in high 50s)
  14. (completed)Walk 10,000 steps a day at least 4 days a week
  15. (completed)Complete a 5K
  16. (completed)Complete a Sprint Triathlon
  17. (completed)Complete a Sprint Triathlon in under 2:30
  18. (completed)Complete a Century Ride
  19. (completed)Complete a Half marathon
  20. Complete a Sprint Triathlon in under 1:30
  21. Get on the podium at a triathlon
  22. Complete a Half-ironman
  23. Complete an Ironman
  24. Qualify for Age Grouper Nationals
  25. Qualify for the Boston Marathon
  26. Qualify for Kona
  27. Give my inner "skinny bitch" the body she deserves (going to need PS for this one)
  28. Have a "normal" relationship with food
  29. Get my personal life in order (yeah, that's kind of vague)
  30. Live into my 90s as one of those cantakerous little old ladies with 10x as much energy as the youngsters I run circles around (so far so good)
I also have goals for the season:
  1. Run a stand-alone mile in 7:30 minutes
  2. Swim 1.2 miles in 45 minutes
  3. Be able to average 16-17 mph on the bike when the course is flat/fast
  4. Be able to run for two hours at a time without a lot of drama (gastro-intestinal issues, aches & pains)
  5. Be able to bike for four hours without getting exhausted
  6. Swim an average of 2 times a week

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Rules of "Normal" Eating

I've decided that 2010 is my year to work on my relationship with food. Okay, this is something I am always working on. I did a lot of work in the last few years leading up to my surgery and I thought that I was pretty much there. But now that I have my ghrelin under control, I can see I still have more work to do.

So I did what I do whatever I want to learn something new. I bought a book!

It's called "The Rules of 'Normal' Eating by Karen Koenig, a pyschotherapist who specializes in eating issues. (Her web sites are and

I'm only about half way done, but I really like this book. Unlike "The Food and Feelings Book", also by Karen Koenig, which bored me to tears. I never got past the first two chapters in that one! It's not that it wasn't a good book. It's just that it became very clear to me that I'm not really an emotional eater. I just couldn't relate to most of what she wrote about. On the other hand, an exercise in this book about head hunger vs. real hunger made it worth the entire price.

In the beginning, of The Rules of Normal Eating, Dr. Koenig describes learning to be a "normal" eater (and, yes, the quote are on purpose) is like learning a second language. You may get very good at it, even fluent, but you'll probably always have to work a little harder (compared to your first language) and you  may always speak with a slight accent.

I can live with that.

Because this book is so good, I'm going to write a series of entries about it as I work my way through it. Hopefully this will reinforce some of the concepts.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ran 4 miles!

Okay, I didn't run it all at once. But I also did three 1000m and one 1200 m runs. Up until now, the best I have been able to do was 800 m at a time and 3 miles total.

My friend Medicine Boy was right ... I had plateaued because I stopped running more than one time a week. This week I ran two times and I'm back to making progress. I also figured out that I can go farther if I slow down. The Track workout today was at R and I pace but I held it to T pace and had much better results. It was tempting to do the 3 x 200 at a faster pace but I stopped myself and that turned out to be smart as I'm much better shape after this week's Track workout than I have been in a long time.

I'm also icing my leg, which  I've been lazy about, especially after I broke all the ice packs, one by one. I guess ice packs designed to keep food cold aren't really designed to ice legs.

I'm going to wear my RockIt tape tomorrow and see if that helps. It seems to help when I first put it on but I'm not 100% convinced it does anything long term. But, hey, I won a roll at the SVTC Open House so I might as well experiment with it.